Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mary Poppins a Scary Tale?

Mary Poppins the Musical has been adapted to the stage, as with most adaptations this means some changes to the dialog and score. There has been some interesting dialog on how this show is lighter then the London production, but still has some moments that are scaring children.

From the NY Post: "WHEN "Mary Poppins" opened in London two years ago, producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that the show - which would seem to be the very definition of "family entertainment" - was "not intended for children under 7."

"There is one production number, a holdover from London, that's still scaring the kids and baffling their parents.

Called "Temper, Temper," it occurs just before the end of the first act. Mary Poppins has temporarily deserted her petulant charges, Jane and Michael Banks, leaving them alone in their nursery. Suddenly, a sinister red hand pokes out from the window of a doll house. A gigantic, evil-looking rag doll then emerges from the doll house, ready to exact revenge on Jane and Michael for abusing their toys.

Soon all of the toys, looking as if they were designed by zombie horror movie-maker George Romero and acting like graduates of the John Wayne Gacy School of Clowning, come to life.
Jane and Michael are put on trial and condemned for their sins against the toys.

On Saturday night, one little girl in the audience was so frightened, she crawled into her mother's lap.

Another mother put her arm around her daughter and asked: "Are you all right?"
The audience seemed a bit stunned by the number, unable to adjust to the sudden change in the tone of the show."

This wasn't one of the legendary producer's cannier marketing ploys (wags immediately dubbed the show "Scary Poppins"), but the truth: The stage musical was much darker in tone than the beloved Walt Disney movie and contained a few scenes that were downright creepy."

The following are reviews from the london production.

From The Stage "Two of the duo’s numbers also accompany scarier sequences for children - a gang of angry toys warning Jane and Michael not to lose their tempers and Mr Banks’ own termagant nanny returning to a very mixed welcome. Who knows whether these aspects of Julian Fellowes’ adaptation, inspired by the original PL Travers books, will upset those expecting a straight translation of screen to stage."

From London Theatre "Stiles and Drewe capture the same magical melodic simplicity of the Sherman Brother’s with the delightful tune ”Practically Perfect”, but not so with the remainder of their songs. The songs “Temper, Temper”, and ‘Brimstone and Treacle’, are ones I doubt any child will be humming after the show."

10-15-06 Mary Poppins on Broadway

tags: Hudson valley theater

1 comment:

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Erica, I loved this show when I saw it in London because it was more than just a show for the kids.

With respect to Michael Riedel's story, All I can say is that I hope that the show as I saw it in London isn't tinkered with too much. I always fear that when shows cross oceans that producers feel the need to tinker to assuage audiences' reactions.

Look at how both "Taboo" and "Bombay Dreams" were retooled only to flop.

I'm hopeful that the supposed "kid-friendly" changes that have been made to the West End-to-Broadway staging won't cater to the lowest common denominator.

Maybe for once, parents will heed advance warnings -- ultimately, it's their responsibility, not Mary Poppins!

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